By Jake Barnett
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WWE Smackdown on the USA Network
Taped on Tuesday in Wichita, Kansas at Intrust Bank Arena
[Q1] The show opened up with Mauro Ranallo plugging Money in the Bank coming up later this month in Las Vegas. AJ Styles music hit and he headed towards the ring with the rest of The Club. Video was shown of John Cena and The New Day chasing off the club at the end of Raw. Cena vs. Styles was plugged for Money in the Bank, as was the Fatal Four Way Tag Team Championship Match.
AJ Styles said people are saying that this years Money in the Bank PPV could be the greatest one of all time. He said it’s not just because the Club are going to take home the Tag Team Championships, it’s also the dream match between himself and John Cena. The crowd chanted for Cena and AJ told the crowd that he was only telling the crowd what they needed to hear. He said on Monday, he made some statements that everyone was thinking but no one was comfortable saying, and that the New Era can’t begin until he takes out John Cena.
AJ said that when he agreed to come to WWE, he made sure that it was known that the Club was a package deal. They have transcended countries, continents, and companies. He then said at Money in the Bank it will be no different, they will dominate and he will show John Cena that he can’t beat him. He started to talk about Gallows and Anderson becoming Tag Team Champions, but Enzo and Cass interrupted.
Enzo did his can’t teach shtick and the crowd lit up. Cass said that there were four teams in the match at Money in the Bank, and it wouldn’t be the Mr. Clean dream team taking home the gold. Anderson grabbed the mic and said that they had traveled the world for ten years making a name for themselves as the absolute best, and what was Enzo doing, managing a Hooters? Enzo copped to manage a Hooters and said that he wished could walk a mile in their shoes because he could be a mile away from them.
Gallows said that the last time they were in a big money match, Enzo went to sleep. The Club mocked Enzo, and AJ mocked his dance. He replied and said that he leaves it in the ring every time, and Cass ended by saying there was only one word to describe them. A tag match between The Club and Enzo and Cass is up next…[c]
My Take: This was a good opening segment. AJ and The Club came across as unfazed, even when Enzo was taking potshots at them. They are much better in this configuration with AJ as a clear leader, and they will continue to improve as time goes on. Enzo and Cass’ shtick gets a bit tired after a while, but they managed to sneak in a couple of lines that make you crack a wry smile regardless.
New Day joined on commentary.
[Q2] 1. Enzo & Cass vs. New Day: Anderson and Enzo started the match. Gallows got a blind tag early on and blindsided Enzo with a big boot. He continued to rain down strikes and covered for a two count. Gallows and Anderson then proceeded to cut off the ring. Anderson tagged in briefly and hit a pendulum backbreaker. Rapid tags at this point as they used holds and strikes. Anderson hit a body slam and placed Enzo in a tree of woe, and then hit a dropkick to the ribs.
Enzo rolled to the outside to recover. When he got up on the apron, he hung Anderson on the top rope. He attempted to make a run for Cass, but Anderson recovered and hit a dropkick that sent Enzo back out to the floor on the babyface side of the ring. The Vaudevillians then walked out on the ramp and got the attention of the cameras. Anderson went to chase down Enzo at ringside…[c]
Enzo fired back at Gallows and finally put him down with a desperation DDT. He made a tag to Cass, who cleaned house with boot and hit the Empire Elbow on Anderson, and Gallows had to break up the pin. Cass hit a big boot that cleared Gallows to the outside, and then got dumped to the floor himself. The Vaudevillians rand down and entered the fray, and then New Day ran in from commentary. The match was thrown out.
The match ended in no contest.
New Day cleared Gallows and Anderson from the ringside area, and Enzo and Cass cleaned house on the Vaudevillians to end the segment. After the match, the announce team threw to a video package that recapped the feud between Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose. A tribute to Muhammad Ali was plugged for next…[c]
My Take: A solid match until everything went to hell. I like the dynamic between these four teams and the Fatal Four Way match should be bedlam when it breaks loose. I’d like to see them establish two clear feuds coming out of the PPV so that they don’t have to involve four teams in the title picture to make things interesting.
[Q3] The announce team recounted some memories of Muhammad Ali, and then the tribute video package was shown. There was more talk of Ali and his activism after the video. The Money in the Bank PPV was hyped again, this time the feud between Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Lana and Rusev. Renee brought up Rusev’s title defense against Titus O’Neill, and asked if he has been avoiding the fight. Rusev took a pot shot at Ali and called himself the greatest Champion of all time.
Titus walked up and said that he was insulted that Rusev would mention himself in the same breath as Ali. He borrowed Ali’s catchphrase about floating like a butterfly, except he delivered with all the charism of your average Gym Teacher. He then said the title was coming home with him at MITB. Cesaro made his entrance in the arena, followed by Sami Zayn…[c]
My Take: Titus has had better outings on the microphone. I didn’t enjoy Rusev making an ass out of himself with the Ali comparison, because it’s just the right thing to do as a heel.
Alberto Del Rio made his entrance, followed by Kevin Owens to round out the tag match.
[Q4] 2. Cesaro & Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro & Kevin Owens: The heels bickered a bit about who would start the match. Owens and Zayn ended up starting, and Owens took a cheap shot. Zayn recovered and hit some deep arm drags, and Owens quickly tagged out to Del Rio. After a few strikes, Zayn took over and backed Del Rio into his corner and tagged Cesaro. Del Rio and Cesaro traded mounted punches in the corner and Del Rio dragged Cesaro towards his corner for a tag.
Owens bailed on Cesaro and refused to tag, which caused Zayn to chase him up the ramp. Cesaro and Del Rio continued, and Del Rio rolled to the outside to regroup. Cesaro followed and hit a rolling senton from the apron. He then pumped up the crowd near the announce table…[c]
Del Rio took control with a tilt a whirl backbreaker and then followed up with a backstabber a moment later for a near fall. Cesaro recovered and hit an impressive deadlift vertical suplex that the announce team went crazy for. Zayn and Owens brawled their way back to the ring, and Del Rio immediately took exception to Owens bailing in the first place. Del Rio took the opportunity to bail this time, and Owens attempted to stop him.
Zayn used the distraction to hit a tope con hilo onto Owens on the floor, and Cesaro hit a vertical suplex onto the floor. In the ring, Cesaro hit a flying crossbody for a near fall. He then went for a Cesaro swing, but Owens hit him with a superkick. Zayn came in and cleared Owens, and Cesaro hit a pop up Euro Uppercut to Del Rio. Cesaro fired up the uppercut train and hit about 5 of them. He went to tag Zayn, but Del Rio kicked him off of the ring apron to stop him. Cesaro took down Del Rio and applied a sharpshooter, but Owens broke it up.
Cesaro sent Owens out to the floor, and then placed Del Rio on the top rope. He climbed up with him, and Kevin Owens shoved him and caused him to get stuck in a Tree of Woe. Del Rio hit a double stomp on Cesaro, but Owens pulled him out of the ring and threw him down on the floor and covered Cesaro himself for the win.
Kevin Owens & Alberto Del Rio defeated Cesaro & Sami Zayn
[Q5] After the match, Kevin Owens celebrated on the ladder that was placed in entrance area. Video was then introduced that further explored the Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose feud, and plugged their match in the main event. Becky Lynch then made her entrance in the arena…[c]
My Take: That was more interesting than the usual pattern tag matches follow, so I appreciated it. It wasn’t the most technically sound match in the world or anything, but Kevin Owens and his ridiculous character make me laugh. He’s such a great douche that it’s hard not to get a chuckle watching him get one over on people.
Dana Brooke made her ring entrance accompanied by Charlotte. Natalya had entered with Becky.
3. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya: Becky got an early advantage with an arm drag and strikes, and Dana bailed to the outside to regroup. With some help from Charlotte, Becky took control of the match. She applied a bow and arrow stretch, but Becky recovered quickly and hit some clotheslines. She fired up the crowd and took a run at Dana with a forearm, followed by a back kick. Things then broke down as all four women got involved in some capacity, and both accomplices were ejected.
Dana tried for a sneaky rollup, but Becky kicked out very late. Becky then transitioned out into a disarmer, and Dana was forced to tap out.
Becky Lynch forced Dana Brooke to tap out.
Baron Corbin was shown making his way to the ring…[c]
My Take: This match was held back by all the attempts to be cute on the outside. I was hoping they’d get a few minutes after the other women were ejected, but they quickly went to the finish. I like that Becky got a win back after losing to Dana several times, but I’m not sure it means anything because she’s a sidekick at this point.
[Q6] We got a “Making Darren Young Great Again” video with Bob Backlund. They talked about saving money, and Backlund said what he was wearing was his only pair of clothes. When Darren asked if he has multiples, he screamed that “YOU GOTTA WANT IT!!!” These segments are good for a laugh but I don’t think they are doing anything for Darren Young. Backlund is great as the old man yelling at the clouds. In the arena, Kalisto made his entrance. Dolph Ziggler was on commentary. Baron Corbin then made his entrance.
4. Baron Corbin vs. Kalisto: Corbin got in some early punches, but Kalisto used his speed to gain an advantage. He sent Corbin to the floor with a dropkick, but Corbin recovered and threw him into the barricade from the apron. They worked over towards Dolph Ziggler at the announce booth, who was way too enthusiastic on commentary. Corbin tossed Kalisto into the steel frame o the ring under the apron, and then tossed him back in the ring.
Kalisto hit a springboard corkscrew in the ring, followed by a headscissors DDT for a near fall. He went for Salida Del Sol, but Corbin pushed him into the ropes and hit a punch to the back of the head. He followed with End of Days for the win.
Baron Corbin defeated Kalisto
Ziggler continued to overdo at the announce table and jawed at Corbin after he won his match. A video was then introduced that covered more of the Ambrose and Jericho feud. This time we got footage of Ambrose destroying Ambrose’s jacket…[c]
My Take: Corbin looked strong and got a much needed TV win. He needs to continue to look strong, and hopefully get away from Dolph Ziggler as quickly as possible. I appreciate Dolph trying to show energy on the microphone in the announce booth, but he turns it on so much that you don’t believe he’s sincere.
Dean Ambrose made his way to the ring, followed by Chris Jericho…[c]
5. Chris Jericho vs. Dean Ambrose: Jericho jawed with Ambrose and slapped him across the face. Jericho bailed to ringside and Ambrose gave chase. Eventually, Ambrose caught up and pummeled Jericho until he was able to avoid a clothesline and turn the tables. The action spilled outside as Ambrose hit a clothesline of his own to send Jericho the floor. Ambrose then hit a suicide dive and began disassembling the announce table.
[Q8] He rolled in to break the count and then placed Jericho on top of the table. He went for dirty deeds, but Jericho turned the tables and catapulted Ambrose from the table onto the floor below. He then grabbed a drink from the crowd and threw it at Ambrose to add insult to injury…][c]
Jericho and Ambrose brawled in the middle of the ring. Ambrose backed up and hit the ropes, but Jericho caught him on the rebound with a dropkick. He then applied a rear chin lock, and then released in order to drape Ambrose on the second rope and apply a choke. Ambrose fired back with a head butt and a clothesline. He then went for a bulldog out of the corner, but Jericho avoided it. Jericho then climbed up top for a double axe handle, but Ambrose hit a kick to the gut. He went for Dirty Deeds again, but Jericho avoided it and went for the Walls of Jericho.
Dean Ambrose managed to flip out and avoid the hold. He then tried to catapult Jericho into the corner, but Jericho caught himself, only to jump right into a forearm to the jaw. Jericho went up top again and hit a nice missile dropkick and things reset a bit at this point. Both men ended up on top rope as Jericho went for a superplex, but Ambrose dumped Jericho face first into the mat and then went for a cradle pin and got a near fall.
Ambrose telegraphed a back body drop and got kicked in the face. Jericho then went for a Codebreaker, but Ambrose caught him and went for Dirty Deeds. Jericho spun out of the hold and sent Ambrose careening towards the ref, but he was able to stop himself. Ambrose then turned around into a codebreaker from Jericho, who covered and got the win.
Chris Jericho defeated Dean Ambrose.
After the match, Jericho retrieved a ladder from ringside and set it up in the corner on the turnbuckle post. He went to Irish Whip Ambrose into it, but got reversed and got laid out. Ambrose then retrieved a ladder from ringside, and dropped it on Jericho’s back. He then set up the ladder in the ring and sat near the top rung. He pointed to the briefcase, and then jumped down and landed on Jericho with an elbow drop. The show went off the air as Ambrose celebrated Jericho getting his comeuppance.
My Take: I’m surprised to see Jericho get a clean pin, but I don’t think it harms Ambrose and definitely makes Jericho look like more of a threat heading into Money in the Bank. The post match attack went pretty much as expected, as they rarely end a show with a decisive heel victory that doesn’t involve some elaborate shenanigans. Overall I think tonight’s show did a decent job of continuing to build the feud between the Money in the Bank match competitors, but Owens still seems like the obvious choice to me. He’s on fire both in the ring and as a personality right now and could be a tour de force holding onto the briefcase and getting a chance to run his mouth, which the briefcase would likely get him an opportunity to do.
Jason Powell and Jake Barnett co-host the Dot Net Weekly and Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast combo show and discuss Raw Underground and other WWE concepts, The Rock's group buying the XFL, the Marty Jannetty story, AEW Dynamite and NXT TV, and more...